When Jesse Cash graduated from the Recording Arts program back in 2003, he expected to land his dream job at a recording studio right out of school. It didn’t quite work out that way.
“I started out hustling, working every job I could get,” he says. “There are so many avenues you can take with a degree in audio. It’s taken me ten years to land my dream job.”
Turns out, his dream job was a far cry from a commercial studio. Instead, he wakes up every morning and walks a few feet to his home office. Jesse’s career path led him to an industry that he’d previously overlooked—working on post-production audio for Red Arrow Industries, a boutique production house that does work for HGTV, TLC, Travel Channel, and more. Jesse consistently works on shows like Love it or List It and Property Brothers.
While some other areas of the recording industry might employ three or four people to work on a single audio track simultaneously, Jesse has found that doing post-production audio for television offers him a lot more individual freedom. Typically, he receives a raw Avid file from the producers. “You pull that into whatever DAW (digital audio workstation) you’re using, and at that point it becomes your personal palate. You have full control. You’re the only one who’s touching the audio before it goes to air,” he says.
While the one-on-one creative aspect is great, it comes with a certain level of professional responsibility. Jesse says it’s important for someone working in the field to learn to take notes and constructive criticism, especially early on. Once you get a feel for what the producers are looking for, you can deliver a consistent product. There’s also a fair amount of pressure to turn projects around quickly. Jesse says he mixes between five and seven shows a week, most of which are reality based.
“With reality TV, you have to make the mix sound like you’re there,” he says.
This can be a tricky process. There’s usually a lot of excess noise on set, and many of the shows Jesse works on are filmed outdoors, which means a lot of wind interference. In order to ensure a realistic sound, Jesse focuses on noise reduction.
“If you try to layer too much into it, it’ll sound fake,” he says. “The key is to take what audio you have and clean it up just enough. There’s a real feeling of accomplishment when you’re done. It’s a different challenge than working at a studio or mixing a scripted show, but with that challenge comes a number of benefits.”
For instance, everything he does is in the glass. He doesn’t use any outboard gear at all, but rather a personal computer set-up in his home. Jesse, who recently got married, says that being able to work from home is a huge perk that allows him to spend time with his family while still maintaining full time employment at a production studio. He doesn’t have to fight traffic, and he has control over his hours. “If I want to work on a project in the middle of the night, I can knock it out,” he says. “That flexibility allows me to have a much more creative mentality.”
Recently, Jesse needed to hire someone to help manage the overflow of projects at Red Arrow Industries. He contacted Full Sail’s Career Development department to see if they had any grads that’d be interested in applying.
“The dedication and work ethic that I encountered at Full Sail is the kind of mindset I want someone I’m working with to have,” he says.
And he advises current students to keep their options open, especially when it comes to their idea of a dream job.
“Don’t overlook post-production audio as a career choice. Think about all the shows on television. There’s tons of them, and they all need an audio engineer.”